Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Ok, it's been a long time since I've been here---I've tried to write but there was nothing of any significance in me.

38 years ago I was introduced to a trotting trainer.
I had an interest in trotting and a great love for horses but knew very little about the complexities of balancing a horse to find its speed and comfort.---they have to be comfotable in their gear to perform at their best.
The greatest thing about old Jim was he was a horseman---a man with love, understanding and respect for his charges.
Over many years he taught me a great deal about horses but often said that I taught him as much. He was traditional in his ways but said that I thought differently without the constraints of kinowledge---he said I had a good eye and could see little problems that no one else saw.
We used to talk for hours while we cleaned harness every Sunday---talked about horses and he loved to talk about "the" war.
He had fought in WW11 and had a badly injured shoulder and arm---but he improvised and there wasn't much he couldn't do.
The first thing Jim taught me was that if you didn't have a horses feet right, you would never get it striding out to it's full capacity.
We spent nearly six months working on my first horse but no matter what we did, we could not get her stride out at full speed without her galloping.
We knew she had the talent but just couldn't get her to show it----but watching her work one day I noticed what she did just before she galloped---and I noticed that she paced like a horse with no knees---everything with her front legs at speed was stiff legged and it was only the stride before she galloped that she bent her knees and almost stumbled.
I got old Jim to send her around again at her best speed and I could see how it all worked.
I got a friend of mine to weld a shaped plate to the front of a pair of front shoes that virtually extended the toe of her hoof by about an inch and then weld the same length to the back of her hind shoes---I knew if I changed her stride in front, I needed to equal it behind.
Neither old Jim or his blacksmith could believe what I wanted to try but as nothing else had worked they went along with "this mad man" and tacked the shoes on for a tryout.

Now I cant say that it was perfect but she paced better and she did not gallop.
After giving her 2 months off to grow natural longer toes and a few trial and error adjustments, she went to the races.
There is no fairytale ending to her story---she never won a race but she did start 52 times and earned place money 36 times.

I only ever had one fight with old Jim. I took a girlfriend to the stables one day ----I could see that Jim was uncomfortable around her.
The next time I saw him he told me to never bring her back to the stables again---when I ask why, he told me that she had told him that she was half Japanese and that he had fought the Japanes during the war and lost two of his brothers to Japanese conflicts.
It would have been easy to walk away or make a choice---I understood his point of view but I couldn't lose either of them.
I said to him that no one had the right to blame children for the sins of their fathers and before he could answer---I said, "Yes, she is half Japanese---do you know what the other half was"---her father was an Australian Army officer based in Japan with the occupational peace keeping forces and met and married her mother there.
He apologised and welcomed her on many visits.

OK---Deja vu

A horse trainer friend of mine has been sick for the past three months---in and out of hospital.
His wife asked me if I could help out with his horses--he only had two left and owned both of them.
I went to see him in hospital to tell him that I would keep his horses going for him til he was back on his feet----he is the greatest knowall and of course was very reluctant to accept my help but told me how everything should be done---he did warn me that him mare was mad and was likely to kick me out of the cart or throw herself down on the track----oh, I love a challenge.
I'll admit that she was a diva but responded very quickly to kindness---and after only two weeks, we were getting on quite well.
Yes, she had some unusal brain fades at the track and gave me a few concerns but with no yelling, no screaming and no whip, she started to move along quite nicely.
She was 3/4 fit when I started with her and I was finding a ton of speed but she kept rolling out of her gear and galloping at her top speed.
I got a friend of mine to drive her so that I could see what she was doing wrong and there it was, 37 years later and the same problem.
Now, I wasn't supposed to change her feet or her gear and if I had told him, it would have been rejected without thought, so I just did it.
It took 6 weeks of foot growth and a lot of arguments with his blacksmith, but she was flying and was very solid in her gear.
My mate was still in hospital but I wanted to give her a run in a full race trial----he was being allowed out for a few days so I organised for him to see her trial. He had only met my girlfriend twice before but was very happy that she picked him up and brought him to the track--she had even arranged that she could park the car on the mound overlooking the track so that he didn't have to get out or walk.
He wasn't impressed with the trial driver I had selected but was over the moon when she charged down the outside to win the trial running away in very smart time.

By the time I had cooled the mare off and drove her back to his stables, my girlfriend was outside and obviously upset----she didn't want to talk about it but I convinced her that whatever it was, I would support her---that I knew this guy well and that he could be a strange, argumentative bigoted man.
Before she could tell me he yelled from the backdoor of the house to get the Muslim bitch off his property.
Yes, my girlfriend is Muslim
It was all very easy for me----I took the shoes off the horse, trimmed her feet back to what they were before I started work on her, tacked his origonal shoes back on, fed the horses, went up to the house, told him what an arrogant bigoted arsehole he was and left.
My girlfriend was understandedly upset but happy with my stance---she was even happier when we went to the race trails last week and saw the mare gallop during the trial and finish tailed off last.

He phoned me yesterday and wanted to know the measurements for her feet.
I took great delight in telling that those measurements were all my work and he would never benefit from my work again.

I could understand Jim, but he was wrong, but this guy is just an ill-informed bigot.
Ignorance is never an excuse.